I lucked into an unusual situation recently: I had not one, but two “revise and resubmit” requests. Sort of.
A “revise and resubmit” is when an agent or an editor likes where your story is going, but thinks it needs more work before he or she will commit to taking it on. I see it as a backhanded compliment, without the negative connotations. On the one hand, they were intrigued and invested enough to make it want to work. On the other, it didn’t work as written, and even after you make the revisions, they still might not take it on.
I call these “sort ofs” because I’m thinking they aren’t true R & R’s. In both instances, the editor in question enjoyed the story. Where they differed is the changes suggested to make it work.
One was a fairly simple request: change it to third person and include a second point of view, something in keeping with what the readers of this particular imprint expect and enjoy. The other didn’t include any specifics, but would have probably included changing to third person, including a second point of view, throwing in a few more elements, and deleting others. In other words, one request would have kept the story much the same as it already is, while altering the voice. The other request…I’m not going to dwell on it.
For the time being, I’ve declined both offers. It was incredibly gratifying to find two people within the publishing industry, on two separate projects, who enjoyed my work enough to want to help me make it better. One editor, when I declined, was quite supportive, which makes me wish I had something different to offer her at this stage, because I think working with her (or one of her staff) would be an excellent opportunity.
But it leads me to wonder: when do you say yes, and when do you say no?
I chose to pass at this point on both requests because in both instances, it wasn’t the way I saw the story going. And I think that’s the question you have to ask yourself if this opportunity arises. Are the suggestions in line with what you envision for the story, or would the changes take it someplace completely different? And if it does, do you want to go there?
For example, I got some feedback on yet another story with some suggested changes, and these ones I ended up taking, because the reader had a point: it was too chaotic as written. Her suggestion was to remove a central plot point. The story needed to be more cohesive and have a clear focal point, and by implementing her changes, I succeeded. I think. I’m not quite done with the revisions (but that’s a whole ‘nother blog post).
At any rate, while the rejection was disappointing, it bolstered me enough to want to keep trying. So I turned around and submitted the project somewhere else. With any luck, if there are changes to be suggested, they’ll follow what I want for the story. Fingers crossed!